Monthly Archives: December 2008

Sad notes – passed over Christmas.

I’m very sad to note that Eartha Kitt has died – even in her eighties, the woman simply embodied sexiness. Truly the best Catwoman ever. And as the voice of Kaa, in The Jungle Book, purely hypnotic. [To those of you who are saying “huh? Winnie the Pooh played Kaa, just before he testified to the HUAC”, wait for the radio series to repeat on BBC 7. Remember – the pictures are far better on the radio.]

As for Harold Pinter, I think it’s possible that he isn’t dead. Just … pausing.

Running out of disk space? How’s your logs?

I ran out of disk space today.

This is not entirely a new issue for me, because I like to listen to BBC Radio from back home, and my only way to do that is to download the shows overnight so I can listen to them the next day. [I’m not allowed that sort of bandwidth at work]

I start troubleshooting this in the obvious way – where are my largest individual files, and are they useful? Windows Vista’s Search is great for this – you can ask for files over a certain number of bytes:

Image-0244

Whoa, over a gigabyte in that mysterious file called “setupapi.app.log”? Ah, but it’s in that C:\Windows\inf directory that I really shouldn’t mess with, so I’d better check to see that it’s alright to get rid of the file. Let’s see what the Microsoft Support Knowledge Base has to offer on the subject of huge files created by the Setup API.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/958909 – “It may take a long time to log on to a Windows Vista-based computer that has antivirus software installed” – well, I haven’t really noticed that logons are that slow, and I don’t actually have antivirus software installed. But visiting the article, I see that this is only the first half of the title. The full title is:

It may take a long time to log on to a Windows Vista-based computer that has antivirus software installed, and you may notice that the file size of the Setupapi.app.log file is very large

So, to use a medical metaphor here, the large setupapi.app.log is the internal haemorrhaging caused by some injury or illness, and the slow logon (or in my case, the inability to use my disk space) is the externally visible symptom – the loss of consciousness, the fainting fit, the going-into-shock. Now that we’ve got the diagnosis, let’s see if the KB article has anything useful to say.

“This problem occurs because the verbose logging policy for the Setupapi.app.log file in Windows Vista is set to the most verbose setting (0x20000FFFF).

“…

“To work around this problem, remove or adjust the value of the following registry entry:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\LogLevel

Hmm… my value is set to 0x20000000. What value should it be?

“Type 0x00000020 in the Value data box.”

OK, that’s a little pedantic – instead, how about you click the “Hexadecimal” radio button, and enter “20”:

Image-0245

There is a hotfix mentioned in the article, but I rarely like to apply hotfixes to my machine if I am sure that the workaround will suffice. I may revisit the hotfix if I can’t see this work to reduce my log file size.

So, how did this happen? How did the setting get put to such a bizarre value?

Quite frankly, I don’t know – and as long as the problem goes away, I’ll just put it down to one of the many programs that I’ve installed or uninstalled. Judging from the fact that this log seems to have been in detail mode ever since November 2007, it’s likely that this setting was chosen (either by me or Microsoft) to gauge how successful the new install of Vista was going.

I now have a gigabyte of my file-space left, and I can go and download “Crisp and Even, Brightly”, one of my favourite Christmas shows from Radio 4. I only wish I could get the TV, because there are some excellent BBC shows that never make it across to this side of the Atlantic – and I just can’t wait for Doctor Who Season 4 – the next Doctor (or is he?), Cybermen, and a Victorian Christmas.

Redmond Report says “Vista Kernel Flawed”

This is just some lovely reporting:

Vista Kernel Ready To Pop?

Vista, due largely to its lockdown of user rights, is far more secure than XP. But it’s not 100 percent safe. In fact, the kernel itself has an issue that could lead to buffer overflow attacks, or so says security company Phion.

Well, that’s hardly surprising, we know how common buffer overflow attacks are, and how difficult they are to prevent. Go on…

The exploit, which does require admin privileges, is pretty well-documented by Phion. And there’s no patch — just a workaround from the company. Hmm. Is Phion looking for new customers?

Uh… if the ‘exploit’ needs admin privileges to start with, exactly how is it an "exploit"? It’s a bug. By the time you have admin privileges, you can replace the operating system with one that does your bidding anyway, so how is it an ‘exploit’ that you can do so without replacing the OS core?

Pre-announcing this kind of flaw is like giving bullets to insurgents before our soldiers have a chance to put on helmets and bulletproof vests: dangerous.

No, it’s rather like suggesting that there’s a flaw in that if the Commander-in-Chief is secretly supporting the terrorist cause, he can order our soldiers to be needlessly sent into a dangerous war zone without sufficient arms or armour.

There are other bugs where I would agree that it’s important to avoid announcing the flaw before the vendor has been given a reasonable chance to fix it for find a workaround – this isn’t that case, though.

The flaw in question is worth noting, though, in that it’s something that can be abused by members of the Network Operators group – and there are many sites that put users into this group simply so that they can turn off or on the wireless networking card on their laptops (for those that don’t have a simple hardware switch). So, while Microsoft may assert that "Network Operators are just like administrators", there are many ordinary users who have been dropped into the Network Operators group.

News: Apple, Linux Users repeatedly mash "refresh" button

Okay, so that’s just one way to explain the news story at ComputerWorld “Windows market share dives(*) below 90% for first time” – statistics don’t lie, but they don’t always answer the question you thought they did.


ComputerWorld also offers other explanations than their title:


Vince Vizzaccarro, Net Applications’ executive vice president of marketing, attributed Windows’ slip to some of the same factors he credited with pushing down the market share of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. “The more home users who are online, using Macs and Firefox and Safari, the more those shares go up,” he said. November was notable for a higher-than-average number of weekend days, as well as the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., he said.

Uh, in other words, expect to see the trend increase as more Mac and Firefox users get laid off and have to search for pr0n at home.


(*) For “dives”, reads “descends by 0.84%” – view the graph at http://marketshare.hitslink.com/os-market-share.aspx?qprid=9 – yes, those are indeed graphs showing the (ahem) rise and fall of usage patterns. See if you can tell rising months from falling months without cheating by looking at the numbers! Three and a half percent, say, would be more like a “dive”. Time to buy Sterling, I think!